By Paul Gable
By a vote of 6-2, the Coast RTA board of directors fired General Manager Myers Rollins this morning.
Board members Lily Jean Johnson and Ivory Wilson voted to oppose the firing.
The Coast RTA board has been struggling with difficult issues concerning management leadership over the last year.
Leading these issues is a failed federally funded sign and shelter project that saw SCDOT cancel the project in December 2013. The bus agency managed to install only five of 73 purchased shelters, for use by Coast RTA passengers, over a nine year period.
However, 10 of the shelters purchased with federal money were installed in Myrtle Beach for use by students of Horry County Schools only. This was part of an Intergovernmental Agreement between Coast RTA and the City of Myrtle Beach which raised red flags with the Coast RTA board and the county’s Select Committee on Coast RTA when GSD first reported it nearly two weeks ago.
Other issues of concern included a controversial proposal for ferry service to and from Sandy Island, bus route placement, long term funding and agency management salary ranges.
Coast RTA Chief Financial Officer Julie Norton Dew has been appointed interim general manager.
According to a statement by Norton Dew later in the meeting, SCDOT is investigating the 10 shelters associated with the Intergovernmental Agreement to determine if Coast RTA will owe any additional money to SCDOT as reimbursement for the failed project.
Coast RTA is currently on the hook for a reimbursement of slightly over $324,000, but credit for the installation of those 10 shelters was given in that reimbursement calculation. Since it is now known that those shelters are not on Coast RTA bus routes and are not available for Coast RTA passengers, the reimbursement total may increase.
Coast RTA board chairman Bernie Silverman said the agency will begin a nationwide search soon to find a permanent replacement for Rollins.
Silverman said he and Norton Dew will be reaching out to the local funding agencies as well as SCDOT and federal agencies to ask for help in the transition now occurring at Coast RTA.
“I am glad this situation is behind us,” said Silverman. “We have the opportunity for a fresh start and we want to do everything possible to provide the best service possible to our passengers.”
Silverman said the Coast RTA board will be exercising considerably more oversight of the agency and its management team from here on.
“Too often in the past there were things we were not told and were in the dark about,” Silverman said. “That will not be the case moving forward.”